Q-Racing Blog: Robbins in the Maturity

Keeping an eye on the Robbins' Vessels entries.

Keeping an eye on the Robbins' Vessels entries.

There is no doubt that Mike Robbins can train racehorses. He is a proven winner at the highest level.

The latest example is Robbins having four of the 10 finalists to the $162,100 Vessels Maturity (G1). There is Mike Amburn’s second-fastest qualifier Freakin Runaway and then three horses owned by Reliance Ranches LLC — fourth-fastest qualifier Flash N Bling, fifth-fastest qualifier Rip Tide and eighth-fastest qualifier The Charm Of Corona.

Robbins earned respect decades ago. He trained from 1976-1994. He then went into various ventures. He pinhooked Thoroughbreds, flew to major show jumping events and farms to float teeth and even built some furniture. In 2012, he rejoined the Quarter Horse training game.

Owners who knew him from his first stint training Quarter Horses already knew he was a premier trainer. He had trained three world champions. They were 1982 world champion Sgt Pepper Feature, 1984 world champion Dashs Dream (arguably the greatest combination of halter conformation and speed) and 1991 world champion Special Leader.

Sgt Pepper Feature won the Champion of Champions, Los Alamitos Championship, Los Alamitos Derby, Golden State Derby, Golden State Futurity and the Dash For Cash Derby.

Dashs Dream won the Champion of Champions, All American Derby, Los Alamitos Derby and the Go Man Go Handicap.

Special Leader won the Champion of Champions and the All American Gold Cup.

Robbins also trained First Down Dash during his 2-year-old season to wins in the Kindergarten and Dash For Cash Futurity.

For all of his success, Robbins has yet to win the Vessels Maturity. That could change this year with his four-pronged challenge in the iconic 400-yard race. Each of the four horses are at strong points in their form cycles.

Freakin Runaway is the ultimate show-parlay horse. He has finished in the top-three horses in 19 of 20 starts and his last off-the-board run came back in 2015.

A 5-year-old gelding by Ocean Runaway, Freakin Runaway started his 2017 campaign with third-place efforts in two allowance races, one at Remington Park and another at Los Alamitos. He then won his Vessels Maturity trial by a game neck in :19.546, just off BH Lisas Boy’s top time of :19.523.

“I’ve had him for three years,” said Robbins. “He’s doing better now than he has since I started training him. He’s more mature and holds his weight.”

Flash N Bling is making his third start off a layoff. He raced in the Los Alamitos Super Derby in November and then returned to action in May at Los Alamitos. The First Down Dash-sired gelding easily won a conditioned allowance race and then was second by one-half length behind BH Lisas Boy in their Vessels Maturity trial.

“He ran his best race ever in the trial,” said Robbins. “He won that allowance race and is a horse on the improve. The rest helped him a lot.”

Rip Tide was also sidelined after racing in the Los Alamitos Super Derby. “We took chips out of both knees and he was gelded,” said Robbins “I would have liked to have given him a race (before the Maturity trials). But, he had a bullet work.”

By Corona Cartel and out of Little Surfer, Rip Tide finished a close third in his Vessels Maturity trial after being bumped at the start. He should move forward off that race considering it was his first out after a layoff and surgery.

The Charm Of Corona could be dangerous. He is in peak form after three 2017 starts. He was beaten by a head in a Remington Park conditioned allowance race and then won under the same conditions by one-half length at Remington Park.

A Corona Cartel-sired gelding, The Charm Of Corona made his Los Alamitos debut in the Vessels Maturity trials and closed well to finish in a dead heat for third.

“He is usually a bullet away from the gate, but he didn’t get away like he can,” said Robbins. “He came on at the end and if he gets away, he could win.”

Robbins knows winning. Beware.

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